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April 2, 2019

Dear Friends of Karmê Chöling,

I read with a sad heart the An Olive Branch and Listening Post reports. Both of these reports elaborated on serious systemic issues of sexual improprieties and patriarchal power dynamics stated in the Wickwire Home report and additional stories of those who have experienced harm at Shambhala. I sincerely hope that those who shared their experiences feel that our community has genuinely heard them and that we all deeply respect the courage it takes to speak up. The fifteen recommendations of the An Olive Branch Report require serious community-wide discussion as we shape an environment that is safe, brave, enriching, collaborative, harmonious, and responsive.

We are starting to listen to each other in a new way.  In community gatherings happening at local centers throughout Shambhala we are listening to a wider range of feelings, beliefs, experiences, and views about how we got here and how to move forward. It is both very difficult and profoundly moving. Each individual and center has or will come into clarity whether to remain in Shambhala, roll up our sleeves and work towards its transformation, or to leave.

Karmê Chöling is both a regional and an international retreat center of Shambhala. As such, it has a responsibility to participate in the mandala-wide process underway to bring about cultural transformation. Karmê Chöling has already taken a public stand against all abuse and misconduct, sexual and otherwise, particularly by those in positions of power. It also is clear that a number of structures and processes for manifesting the Shambhala Buddhist vision need to change. We believe that the recommendations of An Olive Branch’s report must be explored in depth, including implementing the new Code of Ethics.

Profound, lasting change takes time. There is much to be taken into consideration and I am deeply appreciative for all the Interim Board is doing. While it is frustrating during these times of uncertainty and confusion to experience the seemingly slow progress of the Process Team, its recent letter to the sangha has pointed to being ready to start its plan to listen to the community to create the ground for societal transformation in Shambhala. It is needed!

Spring is arriving at Karmê Chöling and we are now planning new, broader programs and tackling serious financial challenges. Recently, a group of new students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania arrived for their annual visit to volunteer their services to Karmê Chöling for a week during their Spring Break. On leaving the jewel in the Green Mountains that is Karmê Chöling, one participant shared these comments:

“Being here has opened my eyes to the childlike wonder of the world – something I haven’t felt in years. With your care, I feel awake, hopeful. I feel like myself.”

Through both our speech and actions, may we who are now part of this remarkable living and changing community ensure that the vision of Shambhala Buddhism thrives for our children and coming generations. Please keep coming back to Karmê Chöling and share this gentle home with your loved ones; I so look forward to seeing you here on the land!

With gratitude,

Myra Woodruff
Executive Director
Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center

 
 

3 Comments

  1. “I sincerely hope that those who shared their experiences feel that our community has genuinely heard them and that we all deeply respect the courage it takes to speak up.”

    Myra, I think that if you were really listening, you would know that they do not think they have been heard. Why is it so hard for you, of all people, to take a stand?

    Fred

     
  2. Thank you for addressing this directly and honestly. People need a safe person to go to if they feel unsafe there. I hope you create a place for an ombudsman who can take complaints and help improve the situation before larger problems occur.

     
  3. If your teachings are so enlightening, why didn’t they prompt you to “start to listen in a new way” until it was already too late for so many who’ve been abused? Perhaps the monkey-mind nature of the human primate cannot, for all your precious appellations, be overcome at all, never mind by a top-down patriarchal structure. Perhaps you should do the mature thing and close it down, or at least reject the authority of Tibetan lamaism and run Karme Choling as a simple non-denominational retreat centre. But your decision to re-hang the portraits of the abusers in question betrays you as people who cling to your precious-sounding, quasi-vaunted designations with all your might. Without them, you may have to face the possibility that you’ve wasted your time.

     

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